December 23, 2012

Garland on Nix: He's made my Christmas

EAST LANSING - Texas chose not to double team senior Derrick Nix. And the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Spartan captain made them pay with a career-high 25-points and 11 rebounds in a 67-56 victory for Michigan State in final tune-up before the start of Big Ten play at Minnesota on Dec. 31.

"He is the best that we've played against," said Longhorns coach Rick Barnes. "I am surprised that we didn't put up more resistance to him. He was the difference in the game. He just did what he wanted ... We haven't really had anybody dominate us the way he dominated us today."

Most non-conference opponents have defended Nix with a double team. But coming off a win over North Carolina in which the Longhorns held preseason All-American James Macadoo to 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, Texas decided to let McDonald's All-American Cameron Ridley defend Nix straight up.

"If they have somebody bigger than me guarding me, why would they double?" said Nix. " I just tried to take advantage of it."
Nix was aggressive from the opening tip. He scored his first field goal 30 seconds into game on post feed from freshman Denzel Valentine.

"I think because of Nix's numbers people are saying, 'okay, we don't have to guard him,'" said Michigan State assistant Mike Garland. "Well, you see what happens when you don't double down on him. He will just cut you in half and that is what happened tonight."

This game was long overdue.

"I am happy for him, it's not so much as a surprise as 'it is about time,'" Garland said. "And he has been capable. He just needed an opportunity to do it and I think he is going to grow from this."

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